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Obese Children At Risk For Heart Disease

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 1:45 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Childhood Obesity, Diabetes, Kid's Health, Healthy Living, Obesity


IMAGE SOURCE:© WikiMedia Commons/ fat adolescent/ author: Robert Lawton

A new study, presented this week at the American Heart Association conference, found remarkable evidence to suggest that children who are obese or have high cholesterol show early warning signs of heart disease.

One in three children in this country is considered overweight. Some are obese. They face a lifetime of battling the bulge, the social stigma and related health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart problems.

“As the old adage goes, “You’re only as old as your arteries,” said Dr. Geetha Raghuveer of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Researchers found, obese children as young as 10 had arteries of a 45-year-old, as well as other heart abnormalities, that greatly increase their risk of heart disease.

The study, yet to be published, involved only 70 children (ages 6-19). Several experts say the results need to be replicated to be considered conclusive.

Many parents think "baby fat" will melt away as the child grows. Although research has consistently shown overweight kids likely become overweight adults, prone to several health conditions later in life including hypertension and diabetes.

The prevalence of childhood obesity in this country continues to be a health concern, with an estimated 16 percent of kids (ages 2-19) considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While childhood obesity levels have been tapering off, some experts note a rise in Type 2 diabetes in children, which they say is linked directly to obesity.

Another study linked childhood obesity to abnormal enlargement of the left atrium, (the heart's main pumping chamber), a risk factor for stroke, heart disease and other heart related conditions.

Julian Ayer, a researcher at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia, performed ultrasound scans on about 1,000 seemingly healthy kids (ages 5 to 15). He found a clear connection between increasing weight and enlargement of the left atrium.

And another study, also using ultrasound testing, by Dr. Walter Abhayaratna of Australian National University, found impairment in the heart’s ability to relax between beats in obese and/or overweight children.

“Children as young as 10-years can have arterial stiffness comparable to that of 30-40-year-old adults,” he said.

“Childhood Obesity is more than a cosmetic issue. It is time to take physical inactivity and childhood obesity seriously on a parental and governmental level,” said Dr. Michael Schloss, a New York University heart disease prevention specialist.

Another recent report, by U.S. researchers shows severe ear infections in children can be strongly linked to the risk of obesity later on in life. #

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